UK airport private room screening

Every time I fly from a UK airport I am taken to a separate room to security screen (because I always refuse the full body scanner as everyone should to collapse this security theatre but I digress). Is the procedure documented online? Is the second person police or just security? There’s a form you need to sign, is this available? I am particularly interested in the “root” of these because there is a reasonable belief this will change on April 12 so I will want to read the new documentation.

Answer

Every time I fly from a UK airport I am taken to a separate room to security screen (because I always refuse the full body scanner as everyone should to collapse this security theatre but I digress).

That is in accordance with the Security Scanners Direction 2016 given by the Secretary of State to airport managers under the powers conferred by the Aviation Security Act 1982 section 15.

Specifically, on page 6 of that Direction,

An individual may opt out of being scanned. In this instance, the individual must either be screened by an alternative method which includes at least an enhanced hand search in private or that individual must not be permitted to enter the security restricted area, or, if applicable, he or she must be removed from it. An enhanced hand search in private must take place in a private room or an area away from the main search comb. This may involve the loosening and/or removal of clothing.

The statement about enhance searches taking place in a private room is repeated elsewhere in the document.

Is the second person police or just security?

If he’s in a police uniform and holding an automatic weapon, he’s probably a police. Otherwise, I speculate that the detective branch does not have the manpower to supervise individually the hand searches of individuals. Perhaps the second person is a witness in case the passenger alleges the private search was performed inappropriately.

There’s a form you need to sign, is this available?

While that has been reported by other passengers, the fact a consent form is required is disputed by two statements made by the Department of Transport in relation to Freedom of Information requests made in 2013 and repeated in 2016. It also makes little sense because (a) the search is authorized by law and the person’s consent can be reasonably derived by the circumstance; (b) reports state the form is sometimes not presented for signature until after the search; and (c) no such form appears to exist for persons otherwise requiring an enhanced search, such as those whose disabilities prevent them being scanned. Other reports suggest the paperwork can vary.

Presumably the security provider of the airport simply make the procedure more unpleasant to discourage you from using it repeatedly. This is a cost to the security provider as well because it will affect their ability to meet their queuing targets.

I am particularly interested in the “root”

My speculation: the UK government wants every individual to be thoroughly scanned and wants to make opting-out unpleasant and uncomfortable, and even more thorough than a nude-o-scope scan.

there is a reasonable belief this will change on April 12

I suspect the Secretary of State for Transport will be too busy on the day of a hard Brexit to worry about some airport scanning regulations.

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